The Merchant of Venice is largely concerned with marginalized peoples

In 'The Merchant of Venice' in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is described as ..
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reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, ..

The trial scene in The Merchant of Venice, I believe, distinctly mirrors one of Plato’s earlier dialogues, Crito, in regards to initial plotline, character relationships, and the puzzle of civic ethics raised. In Crito, Plato presents a hypothetical dialogue between Socrates, who is in prison awaiting execution, and his friend Crito, who, trying to convince Socrates to escape, offers three justifications for evading the Athenian court’s verdict. In The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio and Antonio’s other friends are akin to Crito, and Antonio, whom Bassanio describes as “one in whom the ancient Roman honor more appears than any that draws breath in Italy” (III.2.306-308), echoes Socrates.

The characters in A Merchant of Venice can all fit into one of these catagories but especially those of Shylock and Bassanio.
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Antonio and Shylock, “The Merchant of Venice” demonstrates how ..

By that point it is obvious to all that Shylock is consumed with evil and will stop at nothing to have his revenge, and the trial is both a condemnation of Shylock and a hope of reform for him.

‘The Three Caskets’: The Merchant Of Venice, Act III, Scene II. Robert Alexander Hillingford. Oil on Canvas.
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In Mobile Carnival Theatre Company’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, director Brent Murrill, like Dartmouth theater director Peter Hackett, reimagined Shakespeare’s traditional setting in a more contemporary fixture.

In The Merchant of Venice, however, Portia is a woman that saves the life of a man with her wit and intelligence.
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The Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare Resource Center

But as soon as the villain walks on stage he is hissed and booed, unfortunately it is not as simple as this in 'The Merchant of Venice' and how the audience react to the characters is all important in making the distinction between victim or vill...

SparkNotes: The Merchant of Venice: Important …

At this stage of the play, Portia is introduced: due to her father's will, all suitors must choose from among three coffers—one of which contains a portrait of her. If a man chooses the right one, he may marry Portia; however, if he chooses wrong, he must vow never to marry or even court another woman. Princes of Morocco and Arragon fail this test and are turned away. As Bassanio prepares to travel to Belmont for the test, his friend Lorenzo elopes with Jessica, Shylock's daughter (who escapes with a fair amount of Shylock's wealth in the process). Bassanio chooses the lead casket, which is the correct one, and happily agrees to marry Portia that very night.

Antonio (The Merchant of Venice) - Wikipedia

Siemon opens his essay on The with the following statement: "The Merchant of Venice is the first of Shakespeare's comedies to attempt a full-scale depiction of evil.17" Indeed, evil is a major theme of the play, and certainly one of the most profound characteristics of Shylock.

The Merchant of Venice: Which Merchant is the Real …

In contrast to this happiness, Antonio finds himself in a pinch. Two of his ships have already wrecked in transit, and Antonio's creditors—including the vengeance-minded Shylock—are grumbling about repayment. Word comes to Bassanio about Antonio's predicament, and he hastens back to Venice, leaving Portia behind. Portia, however, travels after him with her maid, Nerissa; they disguise themselves as a lawyer and clerk, respectively. When Bassanio arrives, the loan is in default and Shylock is demanding his pound of flesh. Even when Bassanio (backed now by Portia's inheritance) offers many times the amount in repayment, Shylock is intent on revenge. The duke, who sits in judgment, will not intervene. Portia enters in her guise as a lawyer to defend Antonio. Through a technicality, Portia declares that Shylock may have his pound of flesh so long as he draws no blood (since there was no mention of this in the original agreement). And, since it is obvious that to draw a pound of flesh would take Antonio's life, Shylock has conspired to murder a Venetian citizen; he has forfeited his wealth as well as his loan. Half is to go to the city, and half is to go to Antonio.

Merchant of Venice | The World of Will

The will of Portia’s father immediately surfaces as the central obstacle to the comedic plot-line of The Merchant of Venice. It is a clear example of a patriarch’s legal posthumous authority. Portia’s role as the central female protagonist leads most critics to focus on the restrictions that the will sets on her freedom. Much less discussed is the will’s control over Portia’s numerous male suitors.